Methods: The current study utilized data drawn from Korean older adults aged 65 and over captured using the 2020 Seoul Welfare Survey conducted in Seoul, South Korea during the COVID 19 pandemic (n = 545). Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted by using SPSS 25 and Hayes (2017) PROCESS macro was used to examine the mediating effect of awareness between social participation and social service use in the sample.
Results: We found moderate levels of social participation and awareness and low levels of service use among Korean older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both social participation and awareness of services related to social service use (r=.18, p<.01; r=.11, p<.05). Results of the hierarchical linear regression indicated that increased social participation was associated with increased social service use upon controlling for socio-demographic variables (β = .20, p<.001). Results of the mediation analysis, however, revealed that awareness did not emerge as a mediator between social participation and social service use among the sample.
Conclusion and Implications: Our findings offer a foundation for understanding the relationship between social participation and social service use among Korean older adults during the COVID- 19 pandemic. We encourage social workers supporting older adults throughout and beyond the pandemic to dismantle barriers to social participation using technology to increase service use. Increased service use, in turn, is anticipated to increase health and well-being among this vulnerable group.